MSI Claw Gaming Benchmarks Pit Core Ultra 135H Vs 155H With Surprising Results

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Moving up a tier in a product stack means you're typically supposed to get a better-performing part, right? Well, at least in the case of the MSI Claw and its Intel Core Ultra processors, that may not always be the case. Testing the two variants of the MSI Claw against the two variants of the ASUS ROG Ally, at least one reviewer has found that while the Ryzen Z1 Extreme outpaces either Core Ultra chip in most games, the more interesting story is that the Core Ultra 7 155H doesn't reliably beat the Core Ultra 5 135H in the lower-end Claw model.

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The Retro Tech Dad YouTube channel has all four units in-house: the ASUS ROG Ally with both Ryzen Z1 and Ryzen Z1 Extreme processors, and then the MSI Claw with your choice of Core Ultra 5 135H or Core Ultra 7 155H. He did a previous video reviewing the MSI Claw with the Core Ultra 5 135H and found that he liked it more than he expected, even if it doesn't really stand up to the ROG Ally in game performance. After all, there are still thousands of games that either machine can play flawlessly.

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Check out that nasty frame pacing on the Core Ultra 7 155H.

Grabbing the Core Ultra 7 155H model, he expected to like it more thanks to higher performance, but his expectations were subverted by the fact that the supposed higher-end version of the MSI Claw actually doesn't perform any better than the 135H model. In fact, it sometimes performs worse. Testing in games like Forza Horizon 5, God of War, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Diablo 4, he noted that the Core Ultra 7 155H delivers similar performance to the 135H version, and particularly in Diablo 4 and Remedy's Control, much worse frametimes.

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That's despite the MSI Claw putting up better performance than the ROG Ally in synthetic benchmarks like Geekbench and 3DMark Time Spy, which you can see above. This performance simply isn't borne out in the majority of games, although there were a few titles (notably, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Control) where the Core Ultra handhelds gave an arguably equivalent or better performance to the AMD-powered ROG Ally systems.

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The Core Ultra chips really don't like running at lower power limits, either.

Retro Tech Dad doesn't speculate much about why the Core Ultra 7 155H doesn't outperform it lower-end sibling here, but it clearly isn't due to power or thermal limits, as he was testing all machines plugged-in and on their highest power settings, and the MSI Claws were both outfitted with the same memory configuration. To our eyes, given the sub-optimal frametimes on the 155H model, we suspect it has something to do with either power management or CPU scheduling issues. The Core Ultra 5 135H has fewer CPU cores and no Turbo Boost Max technology; perhaps that's a clue as to why the 135H matches or beats the 155H in most of the tests. Chinese channels on Bilibili saw similar issues when reviewing the hardware at the launch of the system over a month ago.

In any case, we recommend you to check out the full review (embedded above) to hear Retro Tech Dad's conclusions, and to see the rest of his numbers. It's a pretty interesting phenomenon, and we'd like to see more testing of these devices to find out if his experiences bear out to other MSI Claw 155H units.